Putting the Pen in Mai Pen Rai

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February 15th 2010
Published: February 15th 2010EDIT THIS ENTRY

Three words that alone seem foreign and unrecognizable, the Thai phrase of “mai pen rai” pretty much completely sums up life in Thailand. Loosely translated, it means “its no problem.” In practice, mai pen rai is about letting what will be, be. It is allowing yourself to take a step back and not become overly serious about issues that may normally trouble you. In my opinion, it is a motto that those in the West would be wise to live by, as it makes life here relaxed, polite, and above all else, patient.
I could truly get used to this way of life: waking up each day and just allowing myself to take the time to realize what’s important. Taking the time to appreciate the beauty around me, the friends I have, and the family I love. By being more patient, and relaxed and by ensuring myself that I never take life to seriously and remember to live every second of it, I have found my place here in Chiang Mai.
So, what have I been up to? Fun, and lots of it. All last week, my class and I have had the honor of teaching at what has now become known as M.I.T. (short for monks in training school.. but I can just pretend it’s the school in Boston.. right?). We woke each morning for 7am and hopped into a Song Tau to take the hour long journey out of Chiang Mai to visit the monks. Each day was filled with new memories to cherish as we walked the halls of the seminary greeting young monks and learning a little bit about their culture. They were the most disciplined and kind hearted students I could ever hope to teach. However, boys will be boys and frequently there were a few class disruptions. Compared to me at this age though, these kids were angels. I had a great time standing in front of them in class while trying to teach them words as simple as “football” and “chair.” By the end of the week, we were sad to leave the school but it was made complete by a blessing from the schools headmaster. It was a very serene and spiritual ceremony and I felt it was the chance of a lifetime to have such a blessing performed on us. I will forever appreciate my time spent with the monks in their small village and hope to one-day return to see how they all made out.
Besides this, the nights have been filled with going out and throwing back a few Chang beer with the Changster’s and getting rowdy at the Chiang Mai bars and clubs. Talk about a bunch of hypocrites: peaceful and professional by day, violent and wasted by night. The dichotomy makes for a very interesting and fun way of living life in Thailand that always keeps me guessing about what may happen next. One thing I know that is for sure: I have never laughed so hard in such a short span of time in my life. Everyday brings about a new joke, experience, or episode that I choose not to write about due to their private nature (no pun intended for those who know what Im talking about), and I have had a blast being a part of such stories.
Yesterday, the group was split when we were forced out of our home base of Sinthana Resort and all moved on to separate locations. Some of us shipped off to Taiwan, others to the beaches in the south, and a few remain in Chiang Mai to continue the party after-hours with the last of the Changster’s. It was sad to say goodbye, but as a traveler knows: moving on is a part of life that is unavoidable, and though my friends will be missed, I look forward to the opportunity of meeting new faces along the way. Plus, I know that I will soon visit them all once I have my job all set up in Korea.
Over the past few days, I have taken the time to hop on my motorbike La Rambla and tear through the streets of Chiang Mai. I went to see a Muay Thai fight that was ridiculous last weekend. My friend Somme Chai and I slowly but surely made our way to the ring side seats and placed a few well timed bets with some of the locals. I will tell you one thing for sure: nothing is more fun then squeezing into the Thai mosh in front of the Muay Thai fight and yelling “dai dai dai dai dai!” at other potential gamblers in the crowd. It was hysterical to be a part of the fight and well worth the mere 100 baht I lost in total from throwing down some bets. I mean, they lack casinos here in Thailand, how else am I supposed to gamble?
Last night, I took my bike up to Doi Suthep. Its about a 10 mile drive to get there through windy break-neck turns up a steep hill. However, once I reached the top, the view was far more impressive than the danger faced trying to reach it. You can see everything from the mountaintop in Chaing Mai. Bright lights and tall buildings stream across the horizon and make for one of the most beautiful night landscapes I have ever seen.
Following this excursion, a few friends and I went out for our first Korean meal. I have never had Korean BBQ before, but I am very excited that this will soon be a staple of my diet. The tables have huge holes in them that are filled with hot coals as the kitchen staff brings out meat to be cooked over the flame. Then, they bring out trays and trays of side dishes ranging from onions, to rice, salad and Kimchi. The food is delicious and the meal itself is made into a great time since everything is shared and passed around between friends. I also got my first taste of a new alcoholic beverage: Soju. Now I have heard legends from afar regarding the mystical and mighty power behind this fabled nectar, but never before experienced its wrath. It tastes similar to vodka, yet smoother. For a man who already enjoys his vodka, this is an unnecessary invention as I enjoy it even better. Though I drank it in moderation last night, I am sure tales of this drinks effect on me will pan out across the Korean peninsula in a short while.
Well that’s pretty much all for now. I am looking forward to enjoying my last few days in Chiang Mai before heading south to Bangkok and some beaches next weekend. I want to do one final shout out to all my Changster’s who read this blog. Your company over this past month was a pleasure for me. I will never forget all the good times spent rampaging through the night streets, learning the ways of cheerleading and how to punch a rogue tuk-tuk driver for overcharging, and teaching the peaceful monks in their isolated village. Thank you all so much for helping to make this already amazing adventure even better. There is no banana, throw up a C for me and be the soccer maniacs that I know you all are. Carpe Vita!!

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18th February 2010

miss ya man
yo dude whats up looks like your enjoying your time over there in "cape cod" lol be your missing the snow back here in good ole new hampshire not to mention the mad fun times we have... camping aint gonna be the same without that whiskey. well you got my email and ill be checking it as often as i can miss ya bro and keep in touch

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